Do women inherently possess higher emotional intelligence than men?

I spend a lot of time around people, whether it’s on a plane, in a cafe, in a staffroom, or just general life admin. Sometimes, I can’t help overhearing pieces of conversations (honestly I’m not eavesdropping!). Some of the conversations centre around discussing partners or workmates. Often, these conversations include references to either a lack of or over-inflated emotional intelligence competencies.

You know the type of conversations… “They are just so arrogant, they don’t think they can do anything wrong”, or “I wish they wouldn’t be so kind, people are walking all over them”. And often, through my over-hearing ‘research’, these qualities are often attributed to a particular gender derivation. 

So, is there a difference between men’s and women’s emotional intelligence? Is this a ‘thing’?

In a study by Bar-On (1997), it was found that women scored marginally higher in interpersonal relationships, social responsibility and empathy.

However, men scored slightly higher than females in stress tolerance and self-regard.

I know you will be chuckling to yourself as you read this research, thinking about that certain someone… But, I would like to point out the words marginally and slightly… there was not a great deal of difference between the two.

But wait, there’s more to this story…

In a further 2018 study by the University of Cambridge, they found that women showed more empathy than men. However, this difference was not due to their DNA as the study found there were only 10% differences in the genes that contribute to empathy in men and women.

This implies that the gender difference in empathy is the result of other non-genetic biological factors, such as prenatal hormone influences, or non-biological factors such as socialisation, both of which also differ between the sexes.

And, to add to this through my own 2019 research where we ran Emotional Intelligence assessments past 50 primary-aged students between the age of 7-11 years, we also found these trends were apparent.

So, despite the fact that genetically there is a minor difference, how we are brought up, who we are influenced by, and our socialisation plays a large part in either widening or closing this emotional intelligence competency gap.

So what might this mean for your family or workplace? How might you be unconsciously amplifying or dulling emotional intelligence competencies? And, is this helpful or not?

It’s a juicy topic, and I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

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